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Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Rotorcraft Report: Bell Shuffles Engineering, Hires Nick Lappos

PRODUCTS | AIRFRAMES

Bell Helicopter is reorganizing its engineering shop and going outside for managers. Among its new hires is long-time tilt-rotor critic Nick Lappos.

In a March 19 e-mail to employees, Bell President and CEO Richard Millman said Lappos, a 32-year veteran of Sikorsky Aircraft and most recently a Gulfstream executive, will head Bell’s XworX R&D shop. Boeing engineering executive Jeff Lowinger will head Bell’s engineering department. Both report directly to Millman, according to the e-mail. Bell officials declined to comment.

"We are making a significant investment in engineering process, expertise, talent, and advanced systems activities because we simply must," Millman wrote. Lappos and Lowinger "will help us change the game, pleasantly surprise our customers, and confound the competition!"

The pair will fill roles formerly held by Elaine Vaught, who is taking a senior engineering position with Bell parent Textron.

Lappos is a long-time critic of tilt-rotor technology and, in particular, the Bell/Boeing V-22 and the BA609 civil tilt-rotor Bell is developing with AgustaWestland. He headed Sikorsky’s failed S-92 bid to win the VXX presidential helicopter contract.

A 20-year veteran of Boeing, Lowinger has worked on most of its rotorcraft, including the V-22. Bell’s senior vice president of research and engineering, Roy Battles, is to report to Lowinger. — Bob Cox

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